A Louisiana House committee approved a bill on Wednesday that would significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program by letting doctors issue recommendations to patients for any debilitating condition. Lawmakers also advanced separate legislation to allow dispensaries to deliver products to patients’ homes.
With marijuana still illegal under federal law, the cannabis industry can't readily access traditional financing from banks. And cannabis companies can’t get the same emergency federal loan assistance as other businesses that are struggling during this time.
Despite a bill being tabled in U.S. Congress this week to support smaller cannabis companies during the pandemic, an independent Colorado retailer said they aren’t holding their breath for financial aid.
At the start of 2020, cannabis legalization bills in a handful of northeast states had a relatively clear path to passage. That was before the coronavirus pandemic hit. The latest place where a cannabis bill is delayed? Connecticut.
In 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union released a groundbreaking report that examined millions of cannabis arrests across America between 2001 and 2010 and found significant racial disparities in how cannabis laws were enforced. Just one year before its release, Colorado and Washington made history when voters in both states on election night passed ballot measures to legalize cannabis use and sales for adults. Since then, nearly a dozen states have followed.
The coronavirus crisis could be igniting a revolution of sorts in the legal cannabis industry. Thirty-three states across the U.S. allow for some form of sale and consumption of marijuana. And of those, more than 20 states have designated the cannabis industry as essential during the coronavirus outbreak.
There will be many policy lessons that emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. One should be that we can achieve better health, safety, and economic outcomes if we replace cannabis prohibition with a thoughtfully regulated system of sales to adults and take other steps to reduce the number of low-risk offenders who become entrapped in our criminal justice system.
Marijuana Policy Project Deputy Director Matthew Schweich and Director of State Policies Karen O’Keefe join Jordan and Andrew of Weed Wonks to talk about the current state of marijuana policy reform in the United States as the coronavirus pandemic sets in.